Dead Kennedys – California Über Alles / The Man with the Dog (1979)


“‘California Über Alles’ is a song by Dead Kennedys. The single, which was the group’s first recording, was released in June 1979 on the Optional Music label, with ‘The Man with the Dogs’ appearing as its B-side. … The lyrics were written by Jello Biafra and John Greenway for their band The Healers. Biafra composed the music in one of his rare attempts at composing on bass. … The lyrics are a pointed, satirical attack on Jerry Brown, the Governor of California from 1975–1983 (and later 2011–2019), and are sung from his perspective, as an imaginary version of Brown outlines a hippiefascist vision of America. Lines such as ‘Serpent’s egg already hatched’, a reference to a line from William Shakespeare‘s play Julius Caesar, comment on the corrosive nature of power. The lines ‘Big Bro on white horse is near’ and ‘now it is 1984’ refer respectively to a statement Brown made during his first governorship that Americans were supposedly looking for ‘a leader on a white horse’, and to the totalitarian regime of George Orwell‘s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four to describe a future (from a 1979 perspective) where Jerry Brown has become President, and his ‘suede denim secret police’ kill ‘uncool’ people with ‘organic poison gas’ chambers. The song is also an early example of Dead Kennedys’ style, with heavy surf rock and militaristic overtones. …”
W – “California Über Alles”
Mix Online
YouTube: California Über Alles, The Man With the Dogs

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